Coral bells are gorgeous plants that add flare to your garden, with colorful leaves ranging from purple to lime green and delicate and subtle flowers. You may have heard that coral bells are not fussy and can grow anywhere, but you may have noticed that yours aren’t doing so well. What can possibly cause the insufficient growth of these plants?
Coral bells tend to be small when the soil is not well-drained or nutritious enough. Additionally, they may be planted too deep or near other plants that use all the available resources. To solve these issues, try replanting the coral bells, feeding the soil, or removing some soil to reduce depth.
In the rest of this article, I will explain every possible reason why your coral bells are too small. Additionally, I will provide ways of fixing every issue as easily as possible.
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1. The Soil Is Too Moist
Coral bells have specific conditions in which they thrive. Soil is probably the most crucial factor that affects the way coral bells grow, so when it’s not ideal, the plants will show it in their own way: they will be small, weak, and less vibrant.
Ideally, coral bells should be planted in moist and well-drained soil. This means they require an environment with a high enough moisture level, but they won’t tolerate it for a long time. This is the problem with planting them in clay soil which is known to hold moisture.
Coral Bell plants should not be planted in clay soil. In order to thrive, they require well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.
Nutrient-rich organic soil is an essential component to growing a healthy coral bell plant (source).
How To Fix
Many plants require well-drained soil, but it isn’t always available. Sometimes the soil is always soggy and wet, and other times it’s too dry. However, you have simple ways to ensure your soil doesn’t retain moisture for too long.
To improve the ability of the soil to release water, you need to add more organic matter to it (source). Anything, from manure to simple shredded leaves, can really improve the drainage ability of the soil you’re using.
This is also an excellent opportunity for you to use your compost. Just adding a few inches of organic matter can improve drainage significantly.
Adding the organic matter is pretty easy, even if the surface is already planted. All you need to do is add the organic matter, spread it evenly on the surface, and let it seep into the soil in its own time without digging or tilling (source).
You can repeat this process yearly to make sure the soil stays well-drained.
2. The Soil Is Too Dry
Coral bells are often regarded as strong plants that require little maintenance and can survive in harsh conditions. It’s true that they can survive in all kinds of sunshine and withstand poor soil, but surviving isn’t thriving.
If the soil where you’ve planted the coral bells is too dry, it may cause your coral bells to struggle to grow properly. Coral bells need a certain amount of water, so anything less than the required level will result in wilted flowers and insufficient growth.
How To Fix
Too dry soil can be solved by a good humid season. However, if the weather is usually dry or your coral bells are planted somewhere with no access to rain, you can spray water on the surface of the soil once in a while (source).
Additionally, adding organic matter to the surface helps with this issue as well.
3. Coral Bells Are Planted Too Deep
Every plant has an ideal depth at which it should be planted. Coral bells thrive when they are planted relatively close to the surface because their roots are fibrous and dislike being too deep into the soil. This is information you need to know before planting the coral bells.
However, if you’ve already planted the coral bells deeper than they require, you might see that they struggle to grow to their full size. Because a lot of their energy goes into reaching the surface, they become weaker and grow smaller in size.
How To Fix
How do you make sure your coral bells aren’t planted too deep? If you’re just planting them, make sure to dig a hole that will allow the roots to spread comfortably and the plant to stand on its own.
However, if your coral bells are already planted and struggling to grow because they were buried too deep, you need to find a way to reduce the depth. Usually, you can just remove some of the soil for this purpose. Alternatively, you can replant them.
4. Coral Bells Are Too Close to Other Plants
One reason why your coral bells are too small might be the fact that other plants nearby are competing for nutrition and root space. If you’ve planted your coral bells near trees or shrubs, you might find that they are struggling to grow because the other plants essentially hog all the nutrients.
Coral bells can even compete with one another in this way. If they are too close to one another, they will all suffer from insufficient resources, which will cause them to become smaller and weaker.
How To Fix
If you want to ensure that your coral bells won’t struggle to grow in the future, you can plant them a few feet away from any large tree or shrub that could cause problems.
Moreover, make sure to plant the coral bells one or two feet (0.3-0.6 m) away from one another to make sure they don’t compete for nutrition (source).
If you have already planted the coral bells near a tree or shrub, you need to remove them and replant them. Alternatively, you can get rid of the other plant if you see more advantages that way.
If you have planted too many coral bells too close to one another, remove some of them to make sure there’s enough distance between the remaining ones.
Even though coral bells are pretty sturdy, they can still have issues growing in certain conditions. If the soil isn’t well-drained or moist enough, your coral bells may grow, but they’ll be smaller than expected. The same will happen if you plant them too deep or close to one another or trees or shrubs.
The solution, in this case, would be to move the coral bells and plant them in a more suitable environment. You can also try to improve the environment itself by adding organic matter and moisture or removing a few plants.